‘The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending Explained: Did Rick Grimes Kill Okafor?

It’s February 2024, and we’ve got another The Walking Dead spinoff series, which, by now, has become the norm. But this one, titled The Ones Who Live, is special because it has the GOAT The Walking Dead character at the center of it. Whether you’ve ever watched, played, or read The Walking Dead or not, if you’re into pop culture, then you’ve certainly heard of this one guy: Rick Grimes. Clearly the biggest name about the whole franchise, the character has already been immortalized on screen by British actor Andrew Lincoln—yes, the same guy from the once iconic Love Actually.

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One of the biggest issues of the franchise in the later years was the fatigue of the audience, which was further felt when Lincoln left the mother show. Many stopped following it, including Lincoln himself, who has admitted that he didn’t keep up with TWD after his characters’ exit. But it was probably a calculated and creative decision to keep Rick Grimes alive, leaving a window for his return. And now we are finally here! It was already foreshadowed in the series finale of The Walking Dead, and the devoted fans of the show couldn’t wait for this moment to finally arrive.

Does it work, though? Well, my answer would be both “yes” and “no.” Instead of adhering to the mother show’s annoying habit of not giving the audience what they want to see by throwing unnecessary filler in their faces, the new show is all business from the opening second. It starts with Rick Grimes, just like in the mother show, and by the time we’re past the fifteen-minute mark, Rick has killed at least hundreds of walkers (we don’t call them zombies in this universe, remember?). And as the episode moves to its culmination, while trying to fit years of “What happened to Rick Grimes” within a tight forty-minute span, we see Rick Grimes in his full glory. The man still looks like someone who’s aging like fine wine, and with that awful hairstyle from season 9 gone, there’s no stopping the charm-train here. However, there are other issues, unfortunately. A lot of it feels pretty generic; the new characters are nothing we haven’t seen before, and Rick’s dream sequences where he keeps seeing his Katana-wielding romantic interest Michonne are tiresome to look at. Let us take a closer look at things now.

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What Happened to Rick Grimes After “The Bridge”?

Unlike The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, the fairly well-made spinoff with the second most popular character after Rick, this one seems pretty tethered to the original show. That spinoff mostly worked as a standalone, but for this one, having basic knowledge about this world and the man is a necessity. Not that I believe anyone who hasn’t watched the original show would actually want to watch The Ones Who Live, but in case you’re brave enough to do so, here’s what you need to know. Rick Grimes is the central character of the main show (and also the comics and the games, but those are irrelevant here), and he has been the reason for many people finding each other and surviving in a post-apocalyptic world. He’s the guy who has united the people and bravely fought for them against every possible threat—humans or walkers. Last time we saw him, Rick was blowing up a bridge and sacrificing himself in order to save his group from a horde of walkers. His group thought Rick had died (except his lady love, Michonne, and his second-in-command and greatest ally, Daryl), but he survived, thanks to this minor enemy turned grateful acquaintance, Jaddis, who handed him over to a mysterious military group. We don’t see Jaddis in this episode, but the name of Pollyana McIntosh in the title card clearly means we’re going to see the character here.


Who is Okafor, and what is CRM?

CRM stands for Civil Republic Military, which governs the fictional city of Civil Republic with a set of heavy-duty laws and a whole lot of rules and regulations. These are the people to whom Rick was handed over by Jaddis as a “B”. The CRM classifies anyone they come across as either “A” or “B,” where “A” stands for threats who need to be taken care of, and “B” s are deemed useful people who get hired as consignees. 

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Now, we all know for a fact that if there’s anything Rick Grimes doesn’t like, it’s being told what to do by an authoritarian figure or figures. The man has always been a born leader, and frankly, he has been better at it than anyone that we’ve ever seen (including these CRM guys). Even though he gets hired as a consignee and put on Walker killing duty, this one CRM guy, Lieutenant Colonel Okafor, does see the potential in him—to move higher up the ranks and maybe even lead CRM one day. Sadly, though, Rick doesn’t want anything to do with CRM, and all he wants to do is escape. He keeps trying, gets caught every time, and ends up losing a hand, even during his fourth attempt. He finally gives in and settles with “if you can’t beat them, join them” for the time being, and Okafor couldn’t be happier. Rick is not the only one on whom Okafor has his eyes, though, as there’s this other character, Thorne, a South African marine who also wants to escape the CRM, who is also on his list. Thorne is your typical apocalyptic movie/show character with a marine background and a lover she has given up on (which the show clarifies eventually).


What does Rick really want?

Rick Grimes is a man who would never endorse something as gimmicky as the CRM, and the show only confirms the idiocy by casting Terry O’Quinn as Major General Beale, aka the top boss. O’Quinn is a fine actor, but he never seems to get out of the shadow of his “Lost” character, John Locke, arguably one of the greatest television characters ever. Here, too, we saw him having a vague conversation with Rick about whether Rick is just playing them or he’s really into it. Even an idiot could tell that the man is definitely up to something, but not Major Beale! It’s not a surprise that Rick has only joined the army after realizing that escaping is hard as a consignee, but maybe not so much as a soldier. So Rick seeks help from his sort of friend Esteban, a proper “B” according to the CRM standard, who tips him off about a secret tunnel and the code to get into it, which would eventually take him outside. Esteban does plead with him not to go and pledge his allegiance to the “good life.” That is with the CRM, though, which Rick is not going to follow, obviously!

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Does Rick Grimes manage to escape?

Esteban is not the only person who’s trying to stop Rick from making another attempt; Thorne also wants the man to come to his senses and abandon his quest for the world outside. We see Thorne having conversations with Rick where she tries her best to convince him, but she clearly doesn’t know who she’s talking to here!

So, as was inevitable, Rick Grimes tries again, and this time, the plan actually seems quite solid. He lures a whole lot of walkers near the tunnel entrance, and manages to place his nametag on one of them in order to stage a fake death—so that Okafor and the CRM don’t come after him. But just when he’s about to get inside the tunnel and close the hatch, he gets interrupted by a screaming teenager. There’s no way Rick Grimes would escape, leaving a child who’s flocked by bloodthirsty walkers behind! So he abandons the escape for now and saves her by eliminating the threats—with the help of Thorne, who seems to know what Rick was up to!

Thorne lets him know that Okafor is also aware of Rick’s plan, which infuriates him, and that’s followed by an inevitable confrontation between Rick and Okafor. Many men have faced the wrath of Rick Grimes before, but Okafor handles it remarkably well! While getting beat up by Rick into pulp, Okafor manages to let him know that he’s very much aware of who Rick Grimes is, who Michonne is, and even his children! If there’s anything that can ever rattle Rick and get him in line, then that has to be a threat to his family, and Okafor finally managed to tame the beast using that. But he’s not a psychopath like good-ol Negan, so instead of keeping Rick under his leash, he offers Rick a seat at the top table, which effectively means a lot of power!


Did Rick Kill Okafor?

While it initially seemed like Rick Grimes had finally given up on life and contemplated killing himself, we realize that it is actually Michonne and his past life that he’s finally moving on from. After years of struggling with himself, Rick Grimes has finally come to the point where he has started to see CRM as a new purpose in life. For true The Walking Dead fans, it must be disheartening to see Rick Grimes quitting on Michonne and wholeheartedly embracing his new persona—where Andrew Lincoln looks as cool as ever wearing a black suit—but for the character, it does make a lot of sense, actually. Rick has always been a person who has put saving the world before his personal desires. The CRM guys are suit-wearing idiots, but they are (as of now) at least not evil! And they do need someone like Rick Grimes to save them, which Okafor was smart enough to see!

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Rick’s final doubt gets cleared after the fall of Omaha, another city the CRM used to rule over with an iron fist, which fell into ruin after they demilitarized their despotic regime and embraced the common people. This only establishes the fact that, in the world they live in, the staunch rules of CRM, as well as the protection of their secrets, are a must if you really want to survive! He burns all the letters he ever wrote to Michonne, while knowing she would never be able to read them, and embraces the black, implying the start of a new era!

In what the show considers the present day, we see Rick and Okafor as co-pilots on a helicopter, going on a mission side-by-side. They look like really good friends, although Okafor has this complaint that Rick doesn’t speak much anymore! Maybe to prove his co-pilot wrong, he shares a backstory from his childhood where his father did something really bad in order to save his family. When he’s done with the story, Okafor shares a secret with him, which is rather cryptic about swearing to some sword (whatever that means). However, he expects Rick to get it when the time comes. Just as he finishes, Okafor gets hit by something that’s powerful enough to get through his strong vest. He instantly dies, and within a blink of an eye, Rick sees everyone around him falling down, with blood splattering everywhere. He’s expectedly shocked, and he lets the control room know what’s happening as the helicopter crashes. Rick survives the crash, wears his helmet, and starts to run—until he gets interrupted by a warrior who holds a katana in his throat and takes his helmet off! There is no prize for guessing who the warrior is, of course!

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The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live was always about Rick and Michonne, and the latter always wanted to save the former—ever since she got the whiff of him being alive. And it’s actually good to see the series taking just about one episode to reunite these two, although I’m quite sure that the next episode is going to focus on Michonne’s quest to find Rick, which I frankly don’t find that exciting, even though it’s always great to see Danai Gurira in action, whether in post-apocalyptic America or in Wakanda. As far as Rick Grimes is concerned, he is obviously shocked to see Michonne, and it would be interesting to see how he reacts to what she has done in order to save him alone. I don’t think the show will go in the direction of Rick versus Michonne just because she has accidentally killed his new best friend, but it would be interesting if they decide to go there. Rick and Michonne versus CRM is what I consider more likely, and as long as Andrew Lincoln gets to tilt his head and kill some walkers as well as some idiots, there shouldn’t be any complaint!


Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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